2020 Fall, Winter, & 2021 Spring Term

During the fall of 2020 we will be finishing a 900 square foot straw bale home with a loft, in Paradise CA. We will be working on the straw bale infill, the heavy clay infill, window installation, living roof, rough electrical, rough plumbing, leveling coat, scratch coat plaster, finish plaster, and installation of light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, and finish plasters.

After the Paradise project we will start construction on the combo garage / greenhouse with an apartment above the garage. All these projects will be built to code and will use conventional building techniques along with natural building techniques.

The 1500 sq. ft. greenhouse, 900 sq. ft. garage, and the 900 sq. ft. apartment above the garage will be built using natural materials such as sustainably cut cedar, local rice straw bales, local clay, sand, and other natural materials. In this project participants will have the opportunity to learn about natural geothermal ventilation systems that can be used to heat and cool the greenhouse using minimal solar power. They will learn how build roof trusses to support snow and wind loads. The greenhouse will be plastered with lime on the inside and out to protect the straw bales and the cob.

Participants joining us on these projects will have the opportunity to see the whole construction process, from foundation to finishes, depending on when you join us. Other learning opportunities include volunteer days and monthly workshops. We will also be offering an online course that details the entire construction process, a great option if you can’t join one of our onsite programs. The online courses can also be paired with our monthly workshops to create a cohesive learning experience.

We are excited to offer many opportunities for learning natural building, for those with or without building experience. To find a program that fits your experience level and availability visit our programs page. Join us to learn everything you need to know about building a natural structure to code.

The Natural Living School’s 2015 Programs

We are so excited to announce this years project:  The construction of a 1400 sq. ft. natural home for a local family here in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains.  This structure will be built using round wood timber framing, milled lumber from the land, straw bales and cob (bale-cob), and light clay.  The goal for this year is to build the foundation, get the straw bale walls up, timber frame the main structure, roof the home with the milled lumber, install all the windows and doors, and plaster the outside of the structure.  We will also be creating a permaculture garden and orchard for the homeowners.

2015 Natural Building Floor Plan
2015 Natural Building Floor Plan

Having one large project for the next two building season will allow the school to offer very unique programs based on the construction of a natural building.  This structure will be built following California’s building codes, which will give all aspiring builders a chance to learn how to build to code, using a majority of natural materials.  In our design, in collaboration  with the home owners, we will use; round wood timbers from the land, milled lumber from the land,  clay from the land, sand and stone from the local quarry, and rice straw from the valley. We will also use as much reclaimed building materials as possible.

2015 Natural Building Project
2015 Natural Building Project

We are honored to have this opportunity and equally as excited to share this project with all who wish to learn how to build a natural structure to code as well as deepening our practices of yoga, meditation, and self discovery.  We are looking to share this project with individuals whom have high energy, looking to work and learn in a spiritual environment.  Participants can join us for all aspects of the construction, or specific stages of the building process depending on when and how long they join us in the 2015 building season.

Framing for 2015 Natural Building Project
Framing for 2015 Natural Building Project

If you are interested in finding out more about our programs please visit our apprentice page, karma yoga program, or workshop page.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact us via email at info@naturalivingschool.com or call 530-268-5255.

We look forward to hearing from you…..


2014 Another Amazing Building Season

I want to first start by thanking all the wonderful participants that joined the Natural Living School in 2014! Completing yet another amazing building season.  We started this season by wrapping up last year’s greenhouse project. This included: adding windows, doors, greenhouse plastic and a finish plaster on the inside and outside of this cute greenhouse.  Thank you all who made this possible!

Highly insulated straw-bale wall on north side
Earthen Greenhouse

Earthen greenhouse - roundwood frame w/ cob & strawbale
Earthen greenhouse – roundwood frame w/ cob & strawbale










Next we started the construction of the “Ash-Room”, a cinder bath for goats, chickens and “Lilly the Donkey” to roll around on ash, keeping the mites off their skin and the sun off their backs. A project sponsored by ‘The Yogoata” of Ananda Village

Lath and Plaster with light clay/straw infill
Lath and Plaster wall system

 This structure is our first round wood timber frame to include lath & plaster, and light clay all together. It was lots of fun to build.

Some of the participants
July Workhop celebrating progress









We continued our work on the Wright Family Cottage, AKA the Studio.  Working with the county was stressful, but in the end we were able to give them what they wanted, and we passed our foundation and framing inspections.  Just a few more, including electrical, finish plaster, and then we get our Final.  Wooo, we are so close….











Roundwood plates and rafters can be seen!
The Loft in The Studio


Also at Melissa’s we built her a round bale-cob pump house that she will use as cold storage year around.  Thank you all who made this project a reality.

Big eaves minimize walls exposure
High School Boys Building a cob pump house

Foundation systems - French drain, earthbags and cob bond beam
Jeremy pinning re-bar through cob bond beam


Stay tune, we will be announcing next years project really soon……

2013 Natural Building Project and Workshops

Join us this summer, and learn how you can build your own natural building, practice yoga, meditation, and feed your spirit. Workshop participants will get hands on experience with rock-bag foundations, making cob, building a cob bond beam, building bale cob walls, timber framing, installing an earthen roof, and working with earth plasters.  We will learn through discussion about rubble trench foundations, concrete tie beams, earthen floors, and give a quick overview on electrical, plumbing, solar water heating, and grey water harvesting.  You will also learn how to use some essential permaculture design principles to create your own food garden.  Our workshop participants will gain an in depth understanding of the natural building process, and experience the benefits of daily yoga and meditation.   

The  workshop participants will be working on the cottage pictured above in small segments, in a way that allows them to experience all aspects of the building process.  Since our workshops are condensed into 6 days, our schedule will be very full.

  • Sunday- Arrive after lunch, get tents set up, join us for a meditation class, and participate in the afternoon yoga and meditation.  After dinner, we will have our orientation.  
  • Monday – Foundations
  • Tuesday – Cob wall systems
  • Wednesday – Timber framing
  • Thursday – Roof systems
  • Friday – Permaculture and earth plaster
  • Saturday- After breakfast we will have our final question and answer.

Each day will begin with yoga and meditation, followed by an informative discussion of the day’s topic, and will end with an evening question and answer session.  We will end our week with a pizza party in downtown Ananda Village, at Masters Market.  

LWS Cobing


As part of the workshop, you will enjoy camping at the Expanding Light, the yoga and meditation retreat at Ananda Village, a drug and substance free environment.

By signing up for our workshop, you will be named on our website as part of the 2013 Natural Building Team and receive an electronic copy of The Natural Living Journal, covering in detail every step of the natural building process. Your support will help make this year’s building a reality.

LW Group Bale Cobing

2013 Building with Spirit Workshops

June 2nd-8th -A 6 day intensive natural building experience .

  • $565 This includes a campsite, 3 vegetarian meals per day, and all the added benefits mentioned above.

Aug. 11th-17th– A 6 day intensive natural building experience.

  • $565   This includes a campsite, 3 vegetarian meals per day, and all the added benefits mentioned above.

Sep 22nd- Sep 28th– A 6 day intensive natural building experience .

  • $565 This includes a campsite, 3 vegetarian meals per day, and all the added benefits mentioned above. 


Please phone 1-800-346-5350 to reserve your space.

More About The Project

The cottage will be built affordably, and to code. We believe that everyone has a right to affordable housing, and to be able to build in a sustainable way, limiting the destruction of our natural resources, and limiting the large amount of waste that is often produced in conventional building.

In most counties around the country you are allowed to build a timber-framed house with straw bale walls and use earthen plasters, as long as the building has been engineered. We have found an amazing engineer that works with natural materials and can help us engineer a structure that can be built simply and affordably using materials from the land.

The cottage will be built using round wood timbers to frame the entire structure, including the roof. Then we will infill the walls using cob and straw bales to create a natural, non-toxic, breathable, highly insulated wall system. There will be natural plasters, an earthen floor, and it will have sustainable heating and cooling methods to work with nature, rather than against it. This structure can be built with a basic understanding of natural building, and yes even you can do it.


2013 Building Season, Phase 1

The Goal for the 2013 building season is to timber frame the entire structure, roof it completely, and then only enclose the walls in the red section, as illustrated on the above floor plan.  Phase two will be to infill the rest of the walls in the blue section during the 2014 summer building season.

Flexible Design

Anyone interested in duplicating the original structure, could construct the red section only, which is about 500 sq ft. This structure could stand alone as a cozy cottage, or could be added on to later.  The main room could be used for the living room and kitchen, with a sleeping loft above the bathroom and closet.  Later, if more space is needed, one could add on the blue section from the original floor plan.

If you are interested in being a part of the 2013 building team please contact us.


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